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Reloading: Electric Experts?

Reloading: Electric Experts?

Have you met Bubba or Billy-Bob? You know, two of the dudes from South Georgialina who post their reloading wisdom on the ‘Proof Loading for Beginners’ forum? Neither have I. A forum post or YouTube vid showing how to change the air filter on your Fraud Mundano is one thing, but a ‘one hole at 500yds’ .30-06 recipe that does not appear in any manual is quite another. Make no mistake, the internet can kill you.

LEAVE IT OR BELIEVE IT

New shooting and reloading sites, posts, blogs and pages appear almost weekly. A few are from names and brands with which we are all familiar. However, the majority are from people and companies about whom we know little or nothing. They may be sincere and well meaning but the buck stops with you if you decide to act on their information. Most dangerous are individual posts on the forums. Many contributors are anonymous and so there’s no means of establishing their credibility. Unless their information chimes with your experience I’d suggest that you avoid their ‘wisdom’.

Whether you want to know your muzzle energy or establish bullet drop there are now a raft of freebie calculator sites. A recent addition is the Hornady Ballistics Calculator. This is a superb piece of software that takes your bullet weight, ballistic coefficient, sight height and zero distance. Based on STP it then calculates performance at intervals that you can pre-set. It provides trajectory, remaining energy and velocity at each interval as well as providing sight correction in MOA or Mils. An advanced version of the app even allows you to set the drag function, humidity and weather factors in place of STP. Take a peek at http://www.hornady.com/ballistics-resource/ballistics-calculator

KNOWN QUANTITIES

Winchester claim to have the most advanced ammunition ballistics calculator in the industry. However, it demands the installation of a Microsoft add-on called Silverlight. This may not work in Chrome or my chosen browser Firefox – ergo I’m not able to review the product. The Explorer-based browsers amongst you can find Winchester Ballistics Calculator at http://www.winchester.com/learning-center/ballistics-calculator/Pages/ballistics-calculator-silverlight.aspx  Their blurb shows the presence of graphical data as well as regular numeric information. They even offer the Calculator as an app for your iphone…. yup, I’m an Android user!

Remington offer a rather clunky ‘product-centric’ version of a ballistic calculator. Their opening page also presents an energy calculator but it refused to work for me. Theirs asks for a calibre and in response opens a wall of data based exclusively upon their own products. If you’re locked into Rem materials then this is the one for you! Read all about it at http://www.remington.com/en/pages/news-and-resources/ballistics.aspx  If you’re willing to sign up to ‘My Remington Country’ then they’ll let you download a tuned-up version of their Remington Shoot Ballistics Software. I’ll stick with Hornady!

PAY & PLAY

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There are several ‘Pay and Play’ apps as well. The one that grabbed my attention was ‘Shooter’. For $10 you can add it to your iPad, iphone, iPod or Android device. I’ve not invested as yet but the screenshots look pretty comprehensive. I’ll post a brief report once I’ve tested it. See what you think of it at http://www.shooterapp.net/ There are many others. Swarovski have a scope oriented Ballistic program. Berger’s calculator is a nicely presented tool but only covers their modest range of bullets and calibres. Visit http://www.bergerbullets.com/ballistics/

QUICK GADGETS AND GIZMOS

The on-screen muzzle energy calculator is a simple tool available from lots of providers, the Bill St. Clair one is fast to load and simple to use. http://billstclair.com/energy.html I’m from a distant generation who were educated pre-microprocessor, my calculator equivalent being a Thornton Slide Rule augmented by Log Tables. I mention this because I like the gizmo from Accuracy 1st Development Group. Called the Whiz Wheel. It is a tactile multi-rotating disc device that allows battery free ‘on the range’ ballistic calculations. Read a really interesting review at http://www.snipershide.com/2012/08/accuracy-1st-whiz-wheel/  I’ll try and obtain one for future review.

ONLINE MANUALS

Most of the major propellant and projectile manufacturers offer some form of on-line loading data. Whilst they include detailed disclaimers and require you to check a box that indemnifies them against claims, their data is largely an evolution of years of actual testing and recording and can be trusted.

Hodgdon present their Reloading Data Centre http://data.hodgdon.com/main_menu.asp  The site contains data for Hodgdon, Winchester and IMR propellants. Nice tabular format for each calibre quoting pressure as well as velocity. Useful warning not to store propellants in the powder measure hopper as many are now made from plastics based on polystyrene… which slowly degrades with prolonged exposure to some of the chemicals in nitro-glycerine. Alliant offer their ‘recipe’ based Reloaders Guide http://www.alliantpowder.com/reloaders/index.aspx?page=/reloaders/index.aspx&  You just go to a calibre and click on your bullet of choice. They also have data sections for shotgun ammo using both lead and non-toxic shot.

The Lapua web site at http://www.lapua.com/en/products/reloading/vihtavuori-reloading-data/relodata/5 contains Vihtavuori Reloading Data. Again, they offer a list of calibres and each has a dedicated page giving min and max load figures together with velocity for a wide range of bullets.. but not Speer. Their list of calibres is mediocre. By way of example, .35 Remington is absent. Speer offer their Datafile pages, http://www.speer-bullets.com/products/reloading_manual/  Each page specific to a calibre and bullet design. They give charge and velocity mostly from universal receivers, but not pressure.

Whilst toolmakers Lyman and especially Lee publish excellent printed manuals, neither have made the move to digital support. I guess they’re happy to earn from the printed page rather than giving their knowledge for free. However, Lyman do offer a rather handy Reloader’s Data Log for under a tenner. The data log contains 50 pages for entering key data including bullet, powder, primer, case, firearm used, group size, velocity, weather conditions and several lines for comments. It is supplied perforated ready to be inserted into a 3-ring binder.

We may be a long way from a paperless reloading environment but the growth of online support and data will continue to grow. Use it wisely.

5 Comments

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